Friday, July 2, 2010

the logger's daughter

My friend from high school days, L, recently had a near tragedy in her family—which miraculously turned out alright. I can’t go into detail because the story was too widespread to be able to make it anonymous here. However, although we hadn’t spoken or corresponded for many years, I felt like I HAD to let her know how happy I am that it worked out okay. I sent a snail mail note saying exactly that and nothing else. And though I expected no reply—I’m sure her family still hasn’t settled back to normal yet to even be able to read mail—I’m disappointed that there was no response.

I often see her e-mail address—hers and my other bestie, F—on e-mails with multiaddresses that one always gets—forwarding jokes, informing us all of big news stories about other classmates, etc. But I never allow myself to write one of them that way—if they wanted to get in touch they can also see my e-mail address there.

Couple of weeks ago, I got the ubiquitous invite/notification of the upcoming class reunion (the 50th!!!!! (picture here that horrified screaming cartoon face by Munch)) . They sent a questionnaire—so well constructed that anyone filling it out would have a great outline of the one great story that resides in each of us. Now I would no more go to this reunion than I would to a . . . well, I don’t even know what kind of an event would be equal. But I do want to read the book they are going to make out of these entries. So I filled one out about myself. The first dreaded question—name your significant other. Well, that’s the whole problem—I have none, except my mom, my kids, my grandkids, and my cats.

So I put that there.

Then I stingily filled out the rest of the questions—including one about my strongest memory of school. I entered something, certainly not any of the ones I’ve put here. I think I did a good job of entering stuff but not entering real stuff. But good stuff, meaningful but not related to personal relationships.

Hopefully others were less guarded and the book will satisfy my curiosity about their lives.

The truth about my life and what makes me tick and why I’ve named myself the flooz—this was already explained here and on MSN Spaces before it became too difficult to determine privacy settings there. And I deleted it all once, in a fit of pique. Because I would reveal a horrible or otherwise significant thing and get no responses (I was looking for “well, of course, dear—you are the way you are and through no fault of your own and really you’re a peach . . .” I wrote stuff about why I yam the way I yam, and as far as I can see, could never have been or done anything different. And naming myself Flooz was something akin to my first visit to an AA meeting—it was so great—although I was shaking with the fear that this was the last place left for me and what if it didn’t work, what then. Getting to a chair and sitting down was totally almost more than I could do, but once done—I didn’t have to explain a thing or say a word, all the others in the room knew exactly what I was, how much trouble I was in, and why I was there. And the old timers said things like just keep coming, it gets better or at least different. They understood why I made the choices I had made--even though to me it seemed choice had not been involved.

The fact is, to put it baldly, with no embellishment or excuses, in high school, I managed to sleep with each of my beloved best friends’ husbands to be, back in the days when I was in active floozihood. L, I believe, became aware of it but didn’t seem to care about it—she never doubted his love for her and knew it was meaningless—as did I. F, however, was totally heartbroken and angered—and after she found out about it, would just have cut me off, but I went to her house the next day after she found out, and just stayed there, followed her like a hound dog, silently, unable to do anything else, and she walked around, cried, and acted as if I was not there, but not as if, either, that she expected me to leave. Almost as if in such a terrible time, of course, I would be there with her because we were that kind of friends.

Here are the embellishments and excuses that I was nobly able to resist for one whole paragraph. There are mitigating circumstances, of course. F’s boyfriend and I got together a week after she and her family had moved to another state and as far as we knew, she was gone forever, and we both felt bad about that. He was just a horndog and if it hadn’t been me he was messing with, it would have been someone else. However, F’s family moved back after only a month or so. And she heard about our get-together and, like I said, I sat there with her, with no explanation to provide. And after a couple of years, F and he married. They were married 20 some years, I think, before they split and each married other people. She’s unique if nothing else, and he and she remain good friends and can make each other laugh like no one else. But she finally divorced him because of his horndogginess.

L’s fiancĂ©—I still don’t know exactly how that happened. One night he picked me up when I was out with a group of girls—and we had a sweet night together. I expected nothing from him. I assume L heard of it—but nothing was ever said and it didn’t interfere with their getting married later and they are still together today and she was like the ultimate wife/mother/home maker, helping to raise her grandchildren with the same enthusiasm she had with her own children. And she's the one who had the near tragedy happen.

I’ve missed both these women throughout the years. It was years before I realized that I had not been invited to either of their weddings—didn’t seem odd at the time because by then I no longer lived locally. But I see now, even had I still lived there, I would not have been among the acceptable people who did attend. Now I’m thinking “Well, of COURSE not!!!” But I didn’t realize it then, and I’m not imagining this, we were still friends (with unfortunate history) but still connected. L and I continued Christmas letters to each other for years and years. That didn’t stop until BABNDM’s death, and although she knew he was my everything, she simply wrote “sorry.” So insufficient of feeling and understanding that everything good in my life was gone, that I just couldn’t communicate with her anymore.

One year another, casual high school friend manipulated a get-together with me and several others, and F was included. I screwed that up by apologizing to F in front of the other friend, for the long-ago assignation with her husband-to-be. She was completely offended that I brought it up and stiffened up and we barely got through the rest of the day. Now she said nothing—it was entirely body language that communicated her reaction. This was sadly after a reunion I did go to, at which she and I both admitted we’d never found another friend we loved as much as we did each other. It certainly was not my intention to destroy that tentative opportunity to be friends again.

Just to be clear, I didn’t choose floozihood because it looked like fun—it was never fun. I made the choice after I saw that in the musical chairs of love and dating in teenage, I was left without a place to sit. No one came for me. Or, well, they came for me, but only after they’d taken their girlfriends home. I was the back street girl. And I got desperate, afraid, and took what I could get. And along with that, I took alcohol to stand it.

Eventually a guy from another state married me for 16 years, and gave me a couple of great children, and now I am a contented grandmother—more than contented—amazed at these wonderful people who are only here because my husband and I got together. He and I divorced, and 12 years later he died of brain cancer at age 51. Meanwhile I re-met BABNDM (before and after but not during marriage) and then he died also at age 57 of a sudden death heart attack.

Okay, I get it, I thought then—and although I got it, there was 10 years of intense grief. I haven’t found anyone since then that I’d care to even risk having a relationship with. I’ve considered it—but the guys available and willing are either scarey because of their capacity to hurt me, or are just not my cup of tea. And I’m so afraid of them recognizing the floozihood buried beneath my exterior, that I just can’t risk it. And truly, I haven’t seen anyone worth it (well, maybe my most excellently fabulous soldier in the whole wide world (married) but he’s been stationed elsewhere—and he was almost worth dipping back into floozihood but not quite).

So these days, I’m either working during the week, or spending Saturdays with my mother since her stroke (she lives in an assisted living place). I can’t say I’m happy, but it is relatively pain free most of the time. I love where I live, in the rain-forestish state where I was raised—a rainy day feels homey to me. However, once in awhile there is one of these perfect days—sunshine, warm, the kind of day friends and lovers make the most of to be out having fun and exploring. Those are the days I feel my loneliness most sharply. The friends I love the most are no longer my friends, and the men I loved are dead. When it’s rainy, I know the lucky people are home complaining about the rain—I on the other hand am happily outside carrying out my responsibilities, working, visiting my mom, and doing the gardening/house chores that go just fine in the rain (a bonus—I’ve never seen a snake in the rain).

I haven’t written for a long time. For a weird reason. Good stuff happened. That always concerns me—I’m not used to that. To be brief—my mother changed her will (reasons are explained in previous entries). My mother’s house will come to me solely—or to my daughter should I predecease my mother. I’m still pretty convinced my mother’ll outlive us all and I take her there to her house almost every weekend and she loves it. I’m in no hurry to have the burden of maintaining that home and paying the taxes on my own, so the longer she lives, her pensions pay the expenses related to her house.

Believe it or not, though, getting her house was not my intention. My sisters and I have never loved it like my mother does. The fact that my [step]dad died practically on the eve of his retirement and never got to live there has always made us feel so bad. And my dream retirement home would be a condo overlooking the public market and the water in Seattle, (I would have to win a lottery for this to happen, but I can’t make myself buy a lottery ticket—gambling is the only vice I’ve never had). So the Seattle condo will never be mine. But I’m happy to know that my kids and grandkids will get to enjoy my mother’s house.

My winter project of removing a pesky, overgrown cedar bush about 10’ tall that tried to scratch my car every time I backed down the driveway got done (and mostly by me). I am not the daughter of a logger for nothin'! Even though I never met that logger. My stepdad was also connected with logging, but was a mill wright which was marginally safer than the woods, but he was killed in an accident there. I always heard how dangerous the logging part was, and after watching a few episodes of "Axmen" I see I still had no real idea of how truly deadly that job is until now. Seeing that program a few times—it surprises me there were not even more deadly accidents as I was growing up. As it turned out, the only death I remember from that period was the father of one of my classmates when we were in grade school. He fell from a high tree, and was impaled on another.

Even so, I braved this project (especially since I didn’t have to climb another tree to get to this one). Every summer the bush would fill up with stinging things--both bees and ants. Now that it’s gone, it manages to look as ugly as a stump as it did as a tree. Anyhoo, the ride continues.

I will be going on vacation first half of August.

Nothing else happening. It is as if the evil sisters do not exist—we do not hear from them. It’s good.